Wednesday, November 30, 2011

4.3 Death Knight Changes & Info

Patch 4.3 is upon us. Finally. At last. Saying that is funny to me because I never thought I would get sick of Firelands and it also seems like it was just starting. I will admit I was getting a bit bored there near the end of 4.2 but that might also have something to do with external influences. Between Skyrim and beta testing SWTOR forcing myself to log on to WoW for tired content was just not happening. Patch time was needed.

There doesn't seem to be too much for DPS Death Knights in this patch, then again I feel like we were at a fairly balanced place. Some people argue that of the melee classes we struggled but in the hands of a skilled player those vacuum generated numbers can be overcome. I will say regardless of being manhandled by Ghostcrawler very little for 4.3, Death Knights seem to be poised to get the nerf bat maybe sooner than later. It's interesting how it all panned out. This seems to be the DK tank patch of love.

Jump for some more.

Now with 10% more KEYHAAAA!
Probably the biggest change I see thus far is the change to "Might" or what used to be a 10% attack power bonus. In a nutshell, Blizz wanted to counteract lost dps on certain movement fights by increasing the attack power buff by 10%. Ranged still gets just 10% but now melee receives 20% from Abominations Might, Blessing of Might, Trueshot Aura, or Unleashed Rage. I'm a fan. Well of course I am a fan, anytime I get more smash I'm happy. There is no downside is there?

Enter my LFR experience. I ran the LFR a few times through (even being not eligible for gear) just to get a feel for the fights - also to experience a 25 man raid again and all the glorious lag that spell effects bring. The first thing I noticed almost instantly was my recount. Here is a horrible windows paint artist rendering of that I saw in the top 5:

This was consistent in the 3 LFG runs I did on day one. So what does this mean? It could be I happened to get into 3 different groups where the people playing Death Knights took it seriously. It could have been a total fluke of nature, perhaps we scale a bit better earlier on compared to other classes.

Or maybe the extra melee buff was just a bit too much for us at this point in time. That is where my money is, while I appreciate the buff I don't think I needed 10% AP right now. Will we get the nerf bat for it? I'm not sure, if every single LFG continues to be dominated by red I would say count on it. As much as it pisses mostly everyone off, when I get these gut feelings about things I tend to be right (cata launch resource spawn rates, Wrath BM hunter being op, MM hunter replacing BM, haste stacking for resto shamans, redesigned savage defense being too op, rune disparages causing the raise of unholy dps, etc) and I could go on for days.

Faceblock Changes
The first thing to change is in the way Vengenance works. Instead of ramping up slowing it will now be active as soon as the tank takes damage. Then it will be based on how much damage the tank has taken in the last two seconds. It potentially will still fluctuate however it will provide a benefit to the tank immediately. I'm sure this was the least of their concerns for DK tanks.

Death Strike will now still heal the Death Knight, even if the attack misses or is dodge/parried. As a result the rune cost is not refunded. DS does three important things; deal damage, heal the tank, and create Blood Barrier. I'm sure this is exciting for tanks as the heal from DS is more important than the damage. Of course striking the target and gaining blood barrier is probably more important than the heal BUT it's better than before when you loose all three mechanics if you miss. A common complaint about DK tank is them taking too much spike damage and being too proc based. This will even out the self healing and allows the DK to always know that DS will provide healing when the button is pressed.

Blood Precense armor bonus is increased from 30% to 55%. This is an interesting change. I always thought that DK tanks handled incoming physical damage very well via Blood Barrier. Increasing their armor contribution by 25% could mean they will be the absolute best tanks for a physical fight. It could also mean there is an armor scaling issue on the horizon.

Blade Barrier now reduces damage passively. This is once again another attempt to smooth out incoming tank damage. I don't think it will really benefit tanks too much, as most tanks had all their blood runes cooldown most times but it will help with spike damage during a pull or tank swap.

Bone Shield now has 6 charges, up from 4. Again, this is an attempt to smooth out spike damage. While small changes alone won't fix the issue, all these small microfixes that Blizzard is implementing for DK tanks might be just what they needed.

Veteran of the Third War now reduces the cooldown on outbreak by 30 seconds. This is an interesting change. I think after seeing the benefit of the T12 2 set bonus, Blizzard wants to make diseases as integrated as possible for tanks. Think about the mechanics of a DK tank, not only do they have all the standard tanking things to worry about but they have cooldowns to roll AND disease uptime to manage? For serious? While the other tanking classes could macro everything into a few buttons, DK tanking (at least GOOD DK tanking) requires more finesse than any of those other tanking classes. Making disease management easier aims to bring it more in line with those other tanks.

Digital Murder Changes
The changes for the DPS Death Knight are exclusively for Unholy this patch. It seems frost is in a good place while unholy needed a little love. First off Unholy Might increases strength by 25%, up from 20%. While melee was a bit behind ranged for DPS output, unholy was a bit behind frost. This 5% strength bump hopes to bridge that gap.

The summon gargoyle will now exclusively use it's ranged attack. I never knew this was an issue until recently. Instead of using the ranged attack the gargoyle would melee the target for pathetic damage. This change realigns what Blizzard wants from that particular DPS cooldown.

So those are the changes for our Death Knight brethren this patch. Mainly it's all about the DK tanking love - and rightfully so - but there are some fun DPS adjustments as well. I'm excited to get into Dragon Soul and really get some work done, aka digital pixel murder and purple item acquisition.

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